The delivery of
about 4.5 tons (4,100 kg) of supplies for the six-member station
crew took on fresh urgency after a botched Russian cargo run on
Dec. 1 and additional delays returning NASA contractor SpaceX to
flight following an unrelated accident.
The rocket, carrying Japanís HTV-6 cargo ship, blasted off at
8:26 a.m. EST (1326 GMT), flying over the Pacific Ocean on its
way to space. The capsule is due to reach the station, a $100
billion laboratory flying about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth,
In addition to food and supplies, the capsule is delivering six
lithium-ion batters and adapter plates, weighing about 3,000
pounds (1,360 kg), which are needed for a planned upgrade of the
stationís electrical system. The batteries will be installed
during upcoming space walks, said NASA launch commentator Dan
Japanís HTV capsules are one of four supply ships that fly to
the station, a project of 15 nations. However, two of the four
freighters are currently grounded following accidents.
A Russian Soyuz rocket failed to put a Progress capsule into
orbit on Dec. 1 due to a problem with the booster's third-stage
engine. The capsule burned up as it fell back into Earth's
atmosphere, with debris crashing to the ground.
Tech billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX is recovering from a launch
pad explosion on Sept. 1 that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and a
$200 million Israeli communications satellite. SpaceX now
expects to return to flight in January.
(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)
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